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Tesla Model 3 pitched as an 'affordable' electric car

Image copyrightTeslaImage captionMore than 115,000 Model 3 cars were pre-ordered ahead of its launch

Tesla has unveiled its much-anticipated Model 3 electric car - its lowest-cost vehicle to date.

The company's chief executive Elon Musk said the five-seater would start at $35,000 (£24,423) and have a range of at least 215 miles (346km) per charge.

He added that his goal was to produce about 500,000 vehicles a year once production got up to full speed.

The California-based company needs the vehicle to prove popular if it is to stay in business.

The first deliveries of the vehicle are scheduled to start in late 2017, and it can be ordered in advance in dozens of countries, including the UK, Ireland, Brazil, India, China and New Zealand.

Tesla delivered 50,580 vehicles last year. Most of those were its Model S saloon,which overtook Nissan's Leaf to become the world's best selling pure-electric vehicle.Image copyrightTeslaImage captionThe launch event in Los Angeles was hosted by the firm's founder Elon Musk

But the firm still posted a net loss of $889m (£620m) for 2015, partly because it spent $718m on research and development over the period.

It left Tesla with cash reserves of $1.2bn, down from $1.9bn a year earlier.

"For a long time there had been questions about the long term viability of Tesla," commented Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst at the car research site Edmunds.

"With niche products like the Model S and the Model X, it hasn't been hitting any sales targets that would sustain its business.

"So, launching what it hopes will be high-volume vehicle is going to show if it can become a fully-fledged auto company that will succeed in the long-term rather than one that pumps out a few cool cars and then goes bust, as we've seen happen with other electric car start-ups such as Fisker."

Read more:

Are electric cars about to go mainstream?

'We had to make an affordable car'

Three electric car recalls in a month

Elon Musk: The driven dreamer
'Roomy car'Image copyrightTeslaImage captionTesla believes its latest car will feel spacious even with five people inside

Other details provided about the Model 3 included:
The base model will accelerate from zero to 60mph (97km/h) in less than six seconds, other models will go faster
It will include the "autopilot" safety features found in existing models, which allow the cars to steer themselves and avoid collisions
It will support "supercharging" as standard, allowing the cars to recharge more quickly at special power stations. Tesla aims to double the number of places offering supercharging to about 7,200 worldwide by the end of 2017
It provides storage room at the front and rear of the vehicle

Mr Musk added that the car should feel more spacious to passengers than similar-sized petrol-based cars because of design decisions Tesla could make by not using a combustion engine.Image copyrightTeslaImage captionThe Model 3 cars will all support Tesla's supercharger facility

"You are sitting a little further forward," he explained. "That's what gives you the legroom to have five adults."

"And the rear roof area is actually one continuous pane of glass.

"The reason that that's great is because it gives you an amazing feeling of openness. So, it has by far the best roominess of any car of this size."
Pre-order excitement

In scenes more commonly associated with smartphone launches than those of vehicles, hundreds of people queued outside Tesla stores in the US to try to secure one of the first Model 3s.

They had to pay a $1,000 deposit to reserve the car before they had even seen it. The company also began taking online orders an hour before its press event had begun.

At the end of his presentation, Mr Musk said that Tesla had already received more than 115,000 orders.

The move should help the firm head off competition from other forthcoming similarly-priced electric cars that will become available first, including General Motors' Chevy Bolt and BYD's Qin EV300.Image copyrightTeslaImage captionMr Musk said 53,000 deaths in the US a year are attributed to vehicle emissions

Part of the incentive to commit early is that a $7,500 tax credit offered to US buyers is set to be pulled once the company has sold 200,000 vehicles in the country.

"If you look at the US auto market, the average purchase price is about $33,000, which is close to what the target for the Model 3 is," said Ms Caldwell.

"So, it becomes less of that pie-in-the-sky dream car and something that the average person can actually afford.

"That's why people are excited about it in non-traditional Tesla markets - places outside of San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles - and why we saw lines in places like Houston and Arizona."
Analysis: Dave Lee, North America technology reporterImage copyrightTesla

You could call it Tesla's Kickstarter campaign.

At tonight's event, computers were set up for people to throw their cash into Elon Musk's coffers to fund the Model 3 project.

One of them was 16-year-old Adam Metcalf, there with his father, who had saved up "all the allowance I've ever had" to put down a deposit for what will be his first car.

Adam hopes to get into the driver seat when it launches at the end of next year. He'll need a serious allowance, mind, even if government subsidies eat into the $35,000 headline price.

If Adam can't quite stretch that far, his deposit will be refunded. Which makes you wonder - how many of the 115,000 pre-orders (and counting) will turn into actual sales? As I say, it's like the crowdfunded pitches on Kickstarter. You don't quite know if the end product will be the success promised at launch.

No doubt about it, Musk needs to sell a lot of the Model 3.

While lining up to get in, I spoke to the managing director of a major European investment bank, who didn't want to be named.

He said the eccentric, rocket-making Musk remains a popular figure, of course, but that patience is quickly running out. Investors are demanding profitability this year - Musk says he can deliver.
ELECTRIC CARS RIVALS:
Chevrolet BoltImage copyrightGeneral Motors

Price:

$37,500 (£26,100) excluding tax credits.

Not available outside US at launch.

Range:

More than 200 miles (322km) on a full charge.

Power source:

60kWh lithium-ion battery.

Takes nine hours to fully charge or one hour to charge up to 80% at a fast-charger station

Available:

Late 2016.
BMW i3Image copyrightBMW

Price:

$42,400 (£29,500) excluding tax credits.

£30,980 in the UK including VAT but excluding government grant.

Range:

80-100 miles (128km-159km) on a full charge - or up to 150 miles if using a petrol-based "range extender" add-on.

Power source:

22kWh lithium-ion battery.

Takes 3hrs 30mins to fully charge, or 30mins to charge up to 80% at a fast-charger station.

Available:

Now.
Nissan Leaf SVImage copyrightNissan

Price:

$34,200 (£23,800) excl tax credits.

£29,490 in the UK including VAT but excluding government grant.

Range:

107 miles (172km) on a full charge.

Power source:

30kWh lithium-ion battery.

Takes six hours to fully charge, or 30mins to charge up to 80% at a fast-charger station.

Available:

Now.
Toyota MiraiImage copyrightToyota

Price:

$57,500 (£40,020) excl tax credits.

£66,000 in the UK incl VAT but excluding government grant.

Range:

312 miles on a full charge.

Power source:

Hydrogen - the two tanks can be refilled in five minutes at a refuelling station.

Available:

Now.
Volkswagen E-Golf SEImage copyrightVolkswagen

Price:

$28,995(£20,185) excluding tax credits.

£31,650 in UK including VAT but excluding government grant.

Range:

83 miles (134km) on a full charge.

Battery:

24.2kWh lithium-ion battery.

Takes eight hours to fully charge, or four hours if using optional 7.2KWH quick-charger, and can be charged up to 80% in 30mins at a fast-charger station.

Available:

Now.
Renault Zoe i Dynamique Nav Rapid ChargeImage copyrightRenault

Price:

£25,545 including battery or £20,545 excluding battery if opting for battery hire programme -both include VAT but exclude government grant.

Not available in US.

Range:

130 miles (209km) on a full charge.

Power source:

22kWh lithium-ion battery.

Takes four hours to fully charge, and can be charged to 80% in 30mins at a fast-charger station.

Available:

Now
BYD Qin EV300Image copyrightBYD

Price:

260,000 yuan ($40,300; £28,050) excluding subsidies.

No details yet about launch plans outside China.

Range:

186 miles (300km) on a full charge.

Battery:

48 kWh lithium-ion battery.

Charging time unknown.

Available:

Details to be given at the Beijing Auto Show in April.
source: bbc news
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David Bowie memorial concert streamed live for charity

Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage captionDavid Bowie died in January after battling with liver cancer

A David Bowie memorial concert will be streamed live internationally in exchange for charitable donations, organisers have said.

Due to "unprecedented interest" promoters have teamed up with Skype, so that fans, in exchange for a minimum donation of £15, can watch the event.

The Music of David Bowie will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Friday.

Slated performers include Mumford & Sons, Blondie and The Pixies.Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage captionMumford & Sons are among 18 acts currently slated to perform in the tribute concert

With a set-list devoted to classic Bowie songs, they are among 18 currently confirmed artists who are set to pay tribute to the musical legend who died of cancer in January.

Bowie's producer, Tony Visconti, is also expected to take to the stage.

Fans can donate via the fundraising platform ammado, and all net proceeds will be given to a variety of arts, music and education charities.

A similar show is to be held at Carnegie Hall in New York the day before, on 31 March.
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David Bowie tribute concert draws stars in Carnegie Hall in New York

Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage captionBlondie singer Debbie Harry was among those who took part

An all-star tribute concert to David Bowie, announced shortly before he died, has been held in New York.

The concert in Carnegie Hall was announced on 10 January as a retrospective of Bowie's life.

But hours later, the singer's family announced his death from cancer. The concert then quickly sold out.

Among the acts performing were the Flaming Lips, Pixies, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper and former REM singer Michael Stipe.

Demand was so high that a second concert was added for Friday night at Radio City Music Hall. It will be broadcast online.

David Bowie obituary

Bowie's life in pictures

"God bless David Bowie," Jakob Dylan said after performing one of the singer's most recognized songs, Heroes.

Another of his hits, Starman, brought the crowd to its feet, in a performance by Blondie leader Debbie Harry. Heart's Ann Wilson got the audience moving with Let's Dance.Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage captionAnn Wilson performed Bowie's Let's DanceImage copyrightAPImage captionHeroes, another of Bowie's hits, was also performed

But Cyndi Lauper's version of Suffragette City and Laurie Anderson's take of Always Crashing in the Same Car seemed to have failed to impress the public.

Other hits such as Rebel, Rebel and Life on Mars, and some more obscure songs, were also performed.

Carnegie Hall was where Bowie made his New York debut in 1972, a city where he would live for 20 years.

The annual tribute concerts, that have previously focused on acts including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Joni Mitchell, were set up to raise money for charity.

Organisers were overwhelmed by requests by performers keen to take part after Bowie's death.Image copyrightAPImage captionCyndi Lauper sang Suffragette CityImage copyrightAPImage captionFormer REM singer Michael Stipe also took part in the tributeImage copyrightReutersImage captionOrganisers were overwhelmed by requests to perform after Bowie's death

"We felt kind of awkward because we are usually so humbly grateful to anyone who wants to participate in this," producer Michael Dorf said.

One scheduled act, hip-hop band The Roots, pulled out of the shows on Thursday, after accusing another unnamed group of refusing to allow them to use their equipment.
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New evidence of Viking life in America?

Image copyrightAlamy

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A new discovery has revealed that the Vikings may have travelled hundreds of miles further into North America than previously thought. It's well known that they reached the tip of the continent more than 1,000 years ago, but the full extent of their exploration has remained a mystery, writes historian Dan Snow.

After a long hike across boggy ground and through thick pine forests, clutching pepper spray to protect against bear attacks, Sarah Parcak and her small team of archaeologists stood on an exposed, wind-blasted headland in North America.

Exhausted but happy, they had been led to Point Rosee in Newfoundland by the most high-tech weaponry in the modern archaeological arsenal - satellite data captured 383 miles (600km) above the Earth. But once here they were back to using trowels and brushes. I joined them to see how this powerful combination of new and old allowed them to make what could be a seismic discovery.

We were here on the trail of one of the greatest maritime cultures of all time. We were here inspired by ancient chronicles which many have written off as fairy stories. We were here looking for Vikings.

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Out of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.Media captionSarah Parcak and Douglas Bolender show Dan Snow what they've found

In about 800AD Britain felt the fury of these men from the north. Portmahomack was one of Scotland's most prosperous and important communities. On a protected bay in Easter Ross, on the edge of the Highlands, it was well placed as a waypoint for merchants, travellers and pilgrims moving along the east coast.

Recent excavations have given us a picture of a wealthy monastery at its heart. Scriptures were copied on to carefully prepared animal skin parchment by monks, skilled craftsmen created beautiful, jewel-encrusted religious ornaments, sculptors carved intricate Celtic crosses. Trade was the source of these riches, the sea brought wealth, but the sea also brought destruction.

Archaeologists have revealed that Portmahomack was suddenly and utterly destroyed. They found smashed fragments of sculptures mingled with the ashes of torched buildings. The settlement was wiped out. It is impossible to be certain but historians now think the most likely explanation is that it was attacked and looted. When I visited, a couple of months before the trip to Point Rosee, I held a piece of skull in my hand, presumably from a monk.Image copyrightDan Snow

It had been shattered by a mighty blow, the sword's blade left a deep gouge that makes the cause of death clear. Who were these men who slaughtered God's servants and annihilated one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain? Almost certainly they were men who cared nothing for the Christian God, men who came in ships from the north and west, men who sought gold: Vikings.

The attack on Portmahomack is the only Viking raid in Britain for which we have archaeological evidence. Others, such as the attack on Lindisfarne at about the same time, echo only through the reports recorded in chronicles. Together these two violent raids mark the start of an era of attacks from across the North Sea. The Vikings or Norse exploded out of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, using hugely sophisticated navigational skills and shipbuilding technology as they pushed ever further into the wider world.

Vikings conquered Normandy in France - the land of the Northmen - even parts of Italy and the Levant. They also founded Dublin, made deep inroads into England and island-hopped across the North Atlantic. Orkney, Shetland, Fair Isle and Iceland.Image copyrightBBC/Freddie Clare

They even crossed to Greenland, where I visited stunning Viking sites on the coast, dodging icebergs to get ashore. But perhaps their greatest achievement is the one shrouded in the most mystery. Did they get to North America? If so, was it a fleeting visit or did they colonise that distant coast too, centuries before Christopher Columbus?

The descendants of the Vikings left sagas - beautiful works of literature in which fact and fiction are often poetically intermixed. They clearly state that the intrepid Leif Erikson led an expedition to the east coast of North America. They describe good harbours, and an abundance of natural resources. One of the most fascinating mysteries in history is whether these can be believed.

Find out moreImage copyrightBBC/Freddie Clare

In The Vikings Uncovered Dan Snow tracks their expansion west, first as raiders and then as settlers and traders. He travels through Britain, to Iceland, Greenland and Canada to see what what could be the most westerly Viking settlement ever discovered. The programme will be on BBC One on Monday 4 April at 20:30.

In 1960, a site on the very northernmost tip of Newfoundland in Canada, L'Anse aux Meadows, was investigated and archaeologists were convinced that it was a Viking settlement. The world woke up to the fact that the Vikings had reached North America before any other Europeans. But no other site has been identified, the search for Viking America stalled. Until now.

Sarah Parcak uses satellite imagery to look for irregularities in the soil, potentially caused by man-made structures which lie beneath. She has used this technique to find ancient sites in Egypt and a few years ago she scoured the Roman Empire where she identified the site of the great lighthouse at Portus near Rome and several other buildings, from a fort in Tunisia to ramparts in Romania. Last year, she decided to search for the Vikings.

It wasn't easy. They travelled light and left nothing behind. No massive stone theatres for them. They voyaged in longships with a strong oak keel, and thin overlapping planks fanning out to form the iconic, graceful hull - the gaps between the planks stuffed with animal hair and tar. The rudder was fixed on with a twisted birch sapling. Sails spun from wool. Food was pickled herring, lamb smoked using reindeer droppings, fermented salmon. Almost everything on a Viking ship would get recycled or rot away. But they did leave a trace, and Parcak's team were determined to pick it up, however faint.Image copyrightImage © 2016 DigitalGlobe Inc

They scanned satellite pictures from across the east coast of America. Several sites appeared worth following up, but they had to decide on one for a dig. In the end they opted for a headland, almost the very western tip of Newfoundland, 400 miles further south and west than the only known Viking site in North America.

It overlooked two bays, offering protection for ships from any wind direction. Parcak saw oddities in the soil that stood out - patterns and discolourations that suggested artificial, man-made structures, possibly even Viking longhouses, once stood there.Image copyrightImage © 2016 DigitalGlobe Inc

It was time to leave the lab, and head out into the field. For a couple of weeks Parcak led the team as they carefully probed the ground that she had first spotted thanks to a satellite hundreds of miles away in space.

Newfoundland's climate is as brutal as ours in the British Isles with hail, gales, sweltering sun and driving rain. Exploratory trenches were flooded, equipment blew away, but they toughed it out and found something tantalising.

Months before, in her lab, Sarah had shown me an image that she thought might be the site of burning or metalwork. Sure enough, when she started to dig on the exact spot, she found something. Something that might prove to be a breakthrough. Carefully peeling back the layers of earth, she found what seemed to be a hearth.Image copyrightDan Snow

A blackened rock testified to intense temperatures. Beneath it were piles of charcoal mixed with cooked bog iron - an iron deposit that needs to be baked to drive off impurities and allow the iron to be extracted for smelting. Surrounding the hearth appeared to be a turf wall of the kind built by Viking settlers across the North Atlantic.Image copyrightGreg Mumford

"I am absolutely thrilled," says Parcak. "Typically in archaeology, you only ever get to write a footnote in the history books, but what we seem to have at Point Rosee may be the beginning of an entirely new chapter.

"This new site could unravel more secrets about the Vikings, whether they were the first Europeans to 'occupy' briefly in North America, and reveal that the Vikings dared to explore much further into the New World than we ever thought."

She immediately checked that there could be no other explanation for these deposits. Newfoundland historian Olaf Janzen was certain, no other groups of settlers roasted bog iron in Newfoundland. Nothing has been proven yet, but it looks like Parcak might have found evidence for Viking exploration in North America that goes much further than just that one site discovered in the 60s.

This find "has the potential to change history" says Douglas Bolender, an expert on Viking settlement who has spent 15 years tracking the Vikings across the north Atlantic. "Right now the simplest answer is that it looks like a small activity area, maybe connected to a larger farm that is Norse." He is excited and can't wait to see what further excavation reveals. He's hoping that seeds or other organic matter that can be carbon dated will be unearthed.

If Parcak has found evidence of another Viking site, it will ignite a new search for Viking settlements across eastern Canada and New England, perhaps as far south as New York and even beyond. Technology has unlocked long forgotten stories from our past, and that technology is getting ever more sophisticated. For those of us who are fascinated by the travels of the intrepid Norsemen, the next few years will provide ever more inspiration.
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Palmyra: Inside the ancient city recaptured from IS








The Theatre of Palmyra, where IS reportedly carried out a number of mass executions. In May 2015, residents of the city were rounded up at the theatre and forced to watch as 20 men were shot.



There were fears that IS would destroy the majority of the city's historic ruins but images show that many of the most important structures, including the theatre, remain standing.



The Bel Temple, the ancient city's main temple and one of its most famous artefacts, was among ancient monuments reduced to rubble by the jihadists.



Graffiti on the gate of the Bel Temple reads: "Entry allowed only with permission from Islamic State." IS militants beheaded 82-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, a renowned archaeologist and the head of antiquities for the ancient city, after he reportedly refused to reveal the location of artefacts which had been moved.



A sign for the city council of Palmyra sits askew. IS captured Palmyra after months of fighting with government forces. Syrian antiquities officials and experts from UNESCO are now assessing the damage at the site.



IS damaged or destroyed a number of historic works of art, including this statue of a goddess and a 2,000-year-old statue of a lion, both at the city's museum. Most of the pieces in the city’s museum were evacuated by antiquities staff before IS arrived.



Most of the main colonnade in ancient Palmyra remains intact, images show, although parts were damaged during the IS occupation. “What surprised us was that the damage was not worse," said Amr al-Azm, a former Syrian antiquities chief.



A damaged artefact from the museum of Palmyra.



Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of antiquities in Syria, told the BBC that more than 80% of the ancient city was still intact. He said restoration and some reconstruction would be required but "in general we are very happy because I thought that the result would be more disaster".
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North Korea nuclear tests: US and China to co-operate

Image copyrightKCNAImage captionNorth Korea has conducted a number of missile tests in recent weeks

North Korea
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China and the United States will work together to try to prevent further missile tests by North Korea, US President Barack Obama says.

In recent weeks, North Korea has carried out a hydrogen bomb test and repeatedly test-fired missiles.

Mr Obama met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in Washington on Thursday.

But hours later, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the North appeared to have test-fired another missile.

The latest test saw what appeared to be a ballistic missile land off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, Yonhap reported.

Mr Obama said he and Mr Xi were seeking to agree "how we can discourage action like nuclear missile tests that escalate tensions and violate international obligations".

Mr Xi, quoted by China's state news agency Xinhua, said it was critical all parties "fully and strictly" implemented newly-agreed sanctions. China is North Korea's closest ally and largest trading partner.

Zheng Zeguang, China's assistant foreign minister, said the presidents had a "candid and in-depth exchange of views on a variety of issues...and reached an important consensus". He called the meeting "positive, constructive and fruitful".

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Out of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.Media captionJonathan Marcus assesses North Korea's nuclear capabilities in light of the latest test claims

North Korea's nuclear test on 6 January and a satellite launch on 7 February were violations of existing UN sanctions.

Since then, the UN and Washington passed further sanctions on Pyongyang. The UN steps were drafted with support by China and reportedly came after two months of negotiations between Beijing and Washington.

Previous UN sanctions imposed after North Korean tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 did little to dispel its nuclear ambitions.

Much of the burden of making sure the sanctions are implemented is falling on China.

Under the new measures, any North Korean ships arriving in China must be inspected for contraband and imports halted if there is proof profits from those exchanges go towards the North's nuclear programme.

Washington has long pushed for Beijing to put more pressure on North Korea. A White House statement in February said China's "unique influence over the North Korean regime" gave it the chance to do so.

China's foreign ministry last week said it was keen to push for wider talks on North Korea, involving a number of regional powers, during the meeting with Mr Obama. There was no confirmation whether new talks were agreed on Thursday.

Mr Obama also vowed to closely work on the same issue with its allies South Korea and Japan after meeting their leaders on Thursday.

"We are united in our efforts to deter and defend against North Korean provocations," he said.
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Hope fading for survivors in India Kolkata flyover collapse



Hopes of finding more survivors trapped under a collapsed flyover are fading in the Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta).

Rescuers have worked through the night in the Girish Park area, where the bypass was under construction when it collapsed suddenly on Thursday afternoon.

At least 23 people were killed and scores were injured.

The 2km-long (1.2 mile) flyover started construction in 2009 and missed several deadlines for completion.Image copyrightDebasish BhaduriImage captionA section of the structure about 100m long fell suddenly on to trafficImage captionReports suggested families were living under the construction siteImage copyrightAPImage captionVolunteers initially used bare hands to try to reach people trapped under the rubble

Officials said more than 90 people have been rescued, some of whom are in hospital in a critical condition.

"Many of the people rescued have been seriously injured," police chief Ajay Tyagi told the Reuters news agency.

"Many could still be buried below the debris."

SS Guleria of India's National Disaster Response Force told the Associated Press that the rescue operation was in its "last stage" and that "there is no possibility of finding any person alive".

It is not clear how many people may be still trapped under the debris
At the scene - Justin Rowlatt, BBC News, KolkataImage caption'The two great arms of steel that would have held the concrete roadway are slumped as if in hopeless resignation'

This is one of the busiest parts of one of India's busiest cities and all around are scenes that speak of the scale of the tragedy: a crushed and burnt motorcycle, the shattered remains of an auto-rickshaw, a discarded handbag and tattered banners of flapping fabric.

Volunteers hand out hot sweet tea and biscuits to rescue workers and gawkers alike. There is a buzz of curious excitement among the crowd that has gathered to watch the operation, but behind it is a growing fury.

What people want to know is why what should have been a fairly straightforward construction project ended in such terrible disaster. And with state elections just days away, it has become a political issue, not just here in Bengal but nationally as well.

People are asking why a construction company that had been blacklisted by other states was put in charge of the project. Was too much pressure being put on it to complete the work? Did it cut corners?

Meanwhile above the scene looms what remains of the overpass itself. The two great arms of steel that would have held the concrete roadway are slumped as if in hopeless resignation.

Rescue workers have struggled to get cranes and other machinery through the narrow and congested streets of Burrabazar area where the incident happened.

An injured construction worker said he had been working on the structure before it collapsed and added that he had seen bolts sticking out of the metal girders.
Safety issues

"We were cementing two iron girders for the pillars, but they couldn't take the weight of the cement," Milan Sheikh told the AFP news agency.

"The bolts started coming out this morning and then the flyover came crashing down."

The cause of the disaster was not immediately clear, but safety issues such as lack of inspections and the use of substandard materials have plagued construction projects in India.

The company in charge of the construction, IVRCL, said it would co-operate with investigators. However one of its senior officials said in a news conference that the collapse had been "an act of god" as the company had a good safety record.

India's collapsing building problem

The flyover was in one of Kolkata's most densely populated neighbourhoods, with narrow lanes, and shops and houses built close together, making it difficult to get heavy equipment to the scene.

The BBC's Rahul Tandon in Kolkata described chaotic scenes on Thursday night, with officials trying to clear the area in case the structure collapsed further.Image copyrightAPImage captionHundreds of police, soldiers and disaster officials worked through the nightImage copyrightAPImage captionMangled steel could be seen sticking out of the collapsed concrete

CCTV footage posted on social media appears to show the moment a 100-metre section of the structure collapses, hitting passers-by, auto rickshaws and nearby buildings.

Witnesses said other cars, buses and lorries were also hit. People are said to have been living in makeshift homes under the flyover.

Emergency teams are using sniffer dogs, concrete cutters, drilling machines and sensors to detect life, a rescue official told AFP news agency.

A spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDRF), Anurag Gupta, told AFP that soldiers and NDRF personnel were at the scene alongside hundreds of police and local officials.

The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has said the authorities will take "stringent action" against those responsible for the disaster.
source: BBC

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